Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said on Saturday that the writ of the state could not be challenged and that the situation in the country had returned to normal after countywide protests by the now proscribed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) over the arrest of its chief Saad Hussain Rizvi.
While speaking to the media in Rawalpindi after visiting injured police officers in the protests, the federal minister said that he congratulated the interior ministry, religious affairs ministry and provincial governments for jointly taking action to successfully control the protests and “it was once again firmly established that state writ can’t be challenged”.
Chaudhry said Pakistan was the world’s fifth biggest country (by population) and an atomic power, questioning how anyone could undermine it and its state.
“Pakistan’s state is not a weak state at all and no one should make the mistake of misunderstanding this,” he said, adding that Pakistan also had the “biggest defence system and army” in the Muslim world.
“So those who wanted to undermine Pakistan should remove that misunderstanding of theirs,” he said.
He said that in a “functional democracy”, there were different points of view and they were listened to but no one could attempt to blackmail the government or think they could exert power over it.
“The situation in all of Pakistan at this time has become normal,” said Chaudhry and further expressed his regret for yesterday’s social media ban for three-four hours, saying it had been “necessary”.
He alleged that prior investigations on sectarian riots and organisations had found the involvement of the Indian intelligence agency, RAW, so “here too there are parties who are used and many times they don’t even know whose hands they are playing into.”
The federal minister said permission cannot be granted for any kind of fitna (civil strife) “as a result of which the country is weakened and your international status is affected”.
Chaudhry also congratulated the police of the four provinces and the rest of the security institutions for making the protests unsuccessful and also reassured them that government is committed to increasing their resources.
He said that everyone was agreed on the love and respect for the Holy Prophet (PBUH) but deplored those doing politics for personal interests on the personality of the Holy Prophet, terming it “unfortunate”.
The federal minister also stated that the decision taken by the government to ban TLP had been its own “internal decision” and rejected notions of any demand from any international power or country.
“It is a banned organisation now so all [prior] agreements are void,” he said while responding to a question about the status of past agreements with the TLP. He also said it would be “wrong” to compare a movement like the TLP with a “genuine political movement” like the PTI which had protested in the past for genuine political demands and democratic rights.
“The nature of a democratic protest for rights is different from a protest based on fitna (civil strife), you can’t put the two [together].”
‘Rana Sanaullah to be booked under anti-terrorism laws’
During today’s media briefing, the newly appointed information minister also stated that PML-N’s Rana Sanaullah will be booked under the country’s anti-terror laws for his recent comments against government officials.
A day earlier, Sanaullah had warned the Punjab chief secretary, the Lahore commissioner and top officials from the the Board of Revenue against conducting any illegal activity regarding tampering with the record of the Sharif family residence on the alleged pressure of the prime minister or his adviser, Shahzad Akbar.
He had said the PML-N would respond strongly if the government thought about demolishing the residence of the Sharifs or any other PML-N leader.
“The chief secretary and commissioner and their families have to live here. (Prime Minister) Imran Khan’s children are already abroad and he too will flee the country soon. So they must not do anything illegal under pressure,” he said.
Responding to the PML-N leader’s comments, Chaudhry said: “We have decided that a case will be registered against Sanaullah under the country’s anti-terrorism and other related laws for these comments and proceedings will be initiated against him.”
He added that “no one will be allowed to threaten the families of government officials”.
He said that if Sanaullah or anyone else from the PML-N wanted to engage in politics and take part in the elections, then they would have to do so within the limits of the Constitution and while respecting the law.
“You will not engage in disrespectful conversation against state institutions nor will you threaten officers. If you threaten officers, try to besmirch Pakistan’s honour and try to blackmail institutions then you will have to face proceedings.”
He said instructions were being given to book Sanaullah for the language he used.
Meanwhile, Chaudhry stated that there was no plan to demolish the Sharifs’ Jati Umra home. He said that the prime minister had received a report on land grabbing by MNAs and had called for an inquiry, with the Punjab government then launching a reclamation effort.
He said the investigation had found discrepancies in how government land at Jati Umra had been transferred over to the name of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s late mother and termed it as “open dishonesty”.
The federal minister said there had been an inquiry and the revenue authority had declared that “official land was wrongly given” and affirmed the PML-N had the right to challenge the decision.
“The legal process should be followed but this demand can’t be made that if we’ve built a house by taking over official land then no one demolishes it.
“You will not takeover government land or threaten the commissioner or chief secretary and if you do, there will be proceedings against you,” said Chaudhry.
‘Tareen has to prove himself in court’
Chaudhry said that the situation being faced by estranged PTI leader Jahangir Tareen was not unique. He cited the example of PTI leaders Babar Awan and Aleem Khan who also had resigned over accusations and then eventually returned after proving their stance or being granted bail.
“The accusations against Tareen, he has to prove [his stance] in court,” he said, adding that the government does not have a personal problem with the sugar baron or vice versa.
He said he hoped that Tareen would fight his case in court and proceedings based on justice, the Constitution and the law would move forward.